Sailing Croatia. Isn’t this everybody’s dream?
Well, it most certainly was mine. Growing up in a Croatian family means that somebody from your family most probably has a small property somewhere at the beach. And this consequently means that you spend each and every summer vacation at exactly this property. There is no strolling around and seeing different places in Croatia, unless you of course have more family with more property. But god beware a Croatian pays for accommodation at his own coast! And paying for sailing Croatia? Not an option haha (at least in my case).
This is how, for a very long time, I had the feeling that every tourist travelling to Croatia has seen more of my home country than I did. For example, it took me 24 years of my live to see the city of Split. Hence, I always dreamt about an independent (no family!) vacation in Croatia that will cover all the main attractions and islands. It felt just right when after I graduated from uni a friend of mine asked me if I would like to join him on a sailing trip in Croatia. Heck yeah I wanted to, no need to ask me twice hehe!
So the plan was to get 8-10 persons to join our sailing trip and to rent a catamaran for a week. As this is not the cheapest way of going on vacation, we decided not to go if we couldn’t find at least 8 persons to share the catamaran cost. We gathered 5 willing friends, what made us 7 in total (with me being the only Croatian person). This is why we decided to cast one more person via Facebook groups haha. I know not important for the story, but a fun fact. After finding our match, we were ready to book the catamaran.
We decided to book it with a skipper as neither of us had much sailing experience nor did we want to spend too much time taking care of technical things, but rather just enjoy this one week to the fullest.
We booked our boat with SailingEuropeCharter. They have their main base in the town Rogač , located on the island of Šolta, just in front of Split. We decided to go in June because of the better price. Also, the sea is not as crowded with tourists and it is already warm enough to swim. In terms of the price, I believe that each of us payed roughly about 900€ for this one week for the boat + skipper. Groceries and restaurants were extra of course. Not cheap but totally worth it. The catamaran we booked was more like a floating hotel. It consisted of 4 double rooms, each room with its private bathroom, and a huge kitchen / dining / entertaining and sunbathing area. Additionally, there is a separate room for the skipper.
We started our trip in Split, the biggest city at Croatia’s coast. Of course I took this opportunity to finally do some sightseeing in this popular tourist spot. We stayed there for a night, enjoying the afternoon and evening. In the morning, we went for some grocery shopping, to be prepared for the whole week of sailing. After the car was filled with lots of yummy things, we took the ferry to the island of Šolta, to finally board our catamaran!
Once we arrived there, the procedure was quite easy. We first needed to register as tourists in Croatia and pay the (not so popular) tourist tax. No worries, nothing major, the cost is 1€ per person per night. Every Croatian hotel / landlord has the obligation to register the tourists staying with them. The reason is simple: If something happens to you and you go missing, the Tourist Board will know your last location and can share that with the authorities who will help.
Onboarding and meeting the skipper.
After this official procedure, we met our booked skipper for the week: Bruno. A true Dalmatian (no, I don’t mean the dog! Dalmatia is a part of Croatia that includes most of the coastline. And yes, the dog Dalmatian is from that area as well, in case you were wondering). We immediately knew that with Bruno we cracked the Jackpot. He knew the Adriatic sea and its islands like no other. Once we brought all the groceries on board, and Bruno checked the boat, we were ready for takeoff.
No real destination in mind, just enjoying the sun and wind in our faces, we gathered all on deck to discuss where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see.
The sailing route.
As we had not a real plan other than seeing as much as possible while enjoying and swimming in hidden bays, Bruno was taking the lead. He created a route on the go, showing us many major islands and cities while incorporating our special wishes during the week (e.g. one day we wanted some wine tasting – he made it happen via his contacts).
Our route brought us from Šolta to the island of Vis and the small town of Komiža. Nearby, we went to Biševo, another island close to Vis, to visit the famous blue cave. After this, we sailed to the island Lastovo, national park Mljet and islands Palmižana and Hvar, before going back to Šolta.
No worries, I will talk specifically about all the destinations more detailed in separate posts. Here, I want to focus on learnings and things you have to keep in mind when going on a sailing adventure in Croatia.
Money, money, money. Additional costs you need to count with.
Unfortunately, all major marinas are charging a fairly expensive fee. In order to get new fresh water for the bathrooms, gas and electricity, you are kind of forced to use the services of the marinas and pay for it. Unless you have Bruno!
He made sure we only anchored in hidden bays for the night and recharged our boat and water while parking in front of restaurants. Here’s the deal: you can stay for free at the restaurant’s dock for the night, if you come dining in the restaurant. It’s not a bad deal, instead of paying only for the amenities you get food on top.
As an example of how much the marina cost actually is: We stayed one night in Palmižana, a very well-known (party) island close to Hvar. Thanks to its popularity, it is fairly crowded and expensive. We wanted to experience the party life Hvar has to offer, so we went for it. For the night we ended up paying just about 200€ for only staying there. To be fair I have to mention that catamarans need to pay the double price. This is due to the catamaran’s size. It is taking double the space compared to a normal sailing boat.
If you book your boat with a skipper, you are paying the price for him directly to the company you booked with. However, keep in mind that you are also expected to pay for the skipper’s food. This means, if you cook on the boat, you also cook for the skipper. Be nice and have drinks ready. Take him with you in case you go dining in a restaurant and pay for him as well. Also, it’s perfect for bonding 🙂
The day we stayed on the island of Palmižana, one of my travel companions returned to the catamaran, carrying half a watermelon. Proudly he announced that he had bought the watermelon for all of us to share. Indeed, it looked really nice. However, when I asked him how much he paid (he used the money from our food pot), I did not know whether to laugh or to cry (out of shock!). The price was 180 kunas, means 25 euros. He got totally ripped off! I mean the watermelon looked really fresh but there is not a place on earth where half of a melon is worth 25 euros.
Water taxi aka how to get back to my boat after partying.
As already mentioned, we anchored in Palmižana, a nearby island of Hvar. Like every other young tourist, we as well, wanted to experience the famous nightlife of Hvar. So we took a water taxi over to the island, which was no problem at all. As any other ‘public’ transport business, the water taxis also have a schedule. This means they have closing hours and were operating only until midnight. There was however the possibility to schedule a pick up at any time of the night for a higher fee. So, still on Palmižana, we offered the young guy (let’s call him Ivan), a fairly high amount of money (I believe it was 500kuna, around 70-80 euros) to come and pick us up in Hvar to bring us back to Palmižana at around 4-5am. We agreed that we will call him once we are ready to go home and he will pick us up, 100%.
Already at that point, Ivan didn’t make the impression that he is amused by this business opportunity. He agreed though. I got his phone number and we went off to party. The big ‘surprise’ followed at 4 am. Not only did Ivan not answer his phone. No – he had it turned off! After many attempts, I gave up calling him and wrote him an educational text message saying
I am very disappointed in you young man!
We spent the following hours running to each fisherman we could spot, asking for a ride. Unfortunately unsuccessfully 🙁 So we spent the morning mooching around the city, taking beautiful pictures of the sunrise and drinking coffee. Around 9am we were finally able to take the first tour boat back to Palmižana. What a night.
Do you have questions about the sailing trip we made? Leave a comment and I will make sure to answer them!
Are you in it to pin it?